Want a good glimpse of where your construction jobs will be coming?  The February 27th Regional Developers Panel was the place to be.  Held at the classy Mayflower Renaissance Hotel downtown Washington, a savvy developer panel sparkled with their insights that went lights years beyond “location, location, location”.  Regional Development Committee Chair Chuck Claar moderated this panel of five develop luminaries: Bill May of Miller & Smith; Fred Rothmeijer of MidAtlantic Realty Partners; Bob Elliott of Washington Realty Investment Trust, Rick Hausler of Insight Property Group, and Donna Shafer of Cityline Partners.  No way was this your father’s developer panel.  Yes, each panelist discussed the importance of place in terms of investing.  But, you would be safe saying the comparison stopped there.  Terms such as “looking to transform the shabby”, “creating great places”, “mixed-use”, “transit access”, “and walkability” flowed so freely that one might understandably have mistaken this WBC panel for a Smarter Growth Coalition workshop.  Oh, but there was no mistaking the real estate investment success of our panels as the explained their investment strategies, market analysis, and project successes.

Bill May of Miller & Smith kicked-off the panel painting an enticing picture of One Loudon north of Dulles a 358 acre planned community with a comprehensive array of uses including 3 million sf of office, 700 thousand sf of retail, over 1,000 residential housing units, 759-key hotel and a wide array of public amenities in neo-traditional setting.   Don’t expect entitlements to be a cake walk.  Bill made clear of the realities of the entitlement process and the proffers involved.  Miller and Smith began the entitlement process in 2004 and just started construction last year.

Fred Rothmeijer, co-founder of MidAtlantic Realty Partners, LLC (MRP Realty), explained how his company focuses on value-add investment and property management in high barrier-to-entry and high growth markets.  Since its founding, MRP has developed 2 million sf of mixed-use real estate, acquired $1 billion of real estate properties, manages 5 million sf of real estate, and is seeking 7.5 million sf through entitlements.  Bill touched on several of MRP’s current projects including: Washington Gateway, 900 G Street, Potomac Yards Town Center, Bethesda Air Rights, River Front Phase I.  Many of these projects involved joint ventures with other developers such as JBG and the leveraging of financing.

Bob Elliott of Washington Realty Investment Trust (WRIT) shared similar investment profile with MRP of high value added development strategic investment.  WRIT founded in 1960 benefits from its long history of strategic investments, meaning that in many projects they often look at basis point investments most of us fantasize about.  According to Bob, WRIT has 71 projects in its portfolio.   Bob provided enticing examples of in-fill, mixed-use development in WRIT vast portfolio: 650 North Glebe Road, Ballston; Braddock Gateway, Alexandria (joint venture with Trammell Crow); 7900 West Park, Tysons; and The Ashby, McLean.

Rick Hausler of Insight Property Group is principally a multifamily housing developer, having developed or acquired some 15,000 apartments, condominiums, in well-located sites, focusing on mixed-use intensity to create and sustainable communities full range of the urban experience, the live-shop-work-play mix.  Rich pronounced that Insight isn’t overly concerned about a potentially weakening residential market, saying if you focus on the fundamentals of neighborhoods rather than short-term real estate cycles, you’ll be positioning your development well, “the devil is in the submarket, look for the shabbiness and the potential relating to such factors as Metro and Beltway access.”   Rick surveyed several of Insight’s current projects in relationship to this principle: Grayson Flats, Arlington; Huntington Metro, in Alexandria, Fenwick Station in Silver Spring; and the Apollo on H Street in the District.

Wrapping up the panel was Donna Shafer of Cityline Partners LLC.  Donna is one of Cityline’s founding partners and she is charged with company strategic planning. Cityline is a subsidiary of DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners, which was formed in 2010.  The company manages and develops transit-oriented real estate holdings in Tysons and is growing DLJ’s footprint throughout the D.C. Metropolitan Region.  Currently, Cityline has zoning applications pending or approved for over 10 million square feet of new development in Tysons Corner, making Cityline the largest real estate owner/developer in Tysons.  Specifically, Donna discuss the process and concepts for the 2.5 million sf Arbor Row project approved by Fairfax County in November 2012 and the just submitted 8.5 million sf Scoots Run Station application.  These projects provide quality mixed-use and high amenities that are in line with the Tyson’s market demographics.

Following the panel presentation, Committee Chair Chuck Claar drew panelist out further regarding such topics as the role of government.   Perhaps, Bob Elliott summed up the panelist sentiment best in stating that Washington area is great play.  Developers get what a great wants and we can provide it.  We’re not going back to the suburban model.  Government should get out of the way.

Below is the presentation:

Part 1 – Bill May, Miller & Smith (12MB)
Part 2 – Fred Rothmeijer, MRP Realty (5.5MB)
Part 3 – Bob Elliott, Washington Real Estate Investment Trust (4.7MB)
Part 4 – Rick Hausler, Insight Property Group (8.1MB)
Part 5 – Donna Shafer, Cityline Partners (10MB)